23 Questions With 'Not Her Daughter' Debut Author Rea Frey

23 Questions With 'Not Her Daughter' Debut Author Rea Frey

Interview with author of Power Vegan, The Cheat Sheet and other lifestyle books.
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I had the honor of picking Rea Frey's mind about her debut novel, "Not Her Daughter," reading and other opinions. If the name sound familiar it's because she is the same author of "Power Vegan," "The Cheat Sheet" and other lifestyle books. The first couple of questions are personal give insight to Ms. Frey's motivations and background. Then we moved on to questions about the new book and reading in general.


1. What first inspired you to write?

"My father. He taught me to read and had at least 30 notebooks full of handwritten poetry strewn around the house. As soon as I could read, I always had a book in my hand. (I even had my own card catalog system in our pantry, which moonlighted as my library.) I loved getting lost in stories. I remember a poem my dad and I wrote together when I was in the third grade called "Soapsuds." It won a writing competition, and I realized that not only did I love writing, but I loved the way it could make people feel. I kept up with poetry, journal writing, letter writing and later, turned to stories."

2. Have you always wanted to write? If not, what did you want to do?

'I’ve pretty much always had two loves: writing and fitness. I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast when I was little. Then it was an Olympic sprinter. Then an Olympic boxer (before female boxing was an Olympic sport). Then a librarian. Then a veterinarian. Then an astronaut. Then a writer. I parlayed my love of health and wellness into writing as I got older in the form of nonfiction books, journalism and magazine writing, but those two “subjects” always fought for the most space in my life. Writing is the only thing I’ve ever done, however, that has felt completely effortless. (But that’s probably because I’ve had well over three decades of 'practicing' it daily.)"

3. What is your favorite genre?

"It used to be literary fiction, then women’s contemporary fiction, then nonfiction and the last few years, I’ve enjoyed domestic suspense, especially since I’m now in that genre."

4. Favorite childhood book?

"The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein"

5. What are your favorite books or authors now?

"Such a hard question! Some of my faves include: 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' 'The Mouse and the Motorcycle,' 'Dubliners,' 'Wuthering Heights,' 'The Grapes of Wrath,' 'The Color Purple,' 'Middlemarch,' '11/22/63,' 'The Power of Intention,' 'Happiness for Beginners,' 'A Moveable Feast,' 'Underworld,' 'The Secret History,' 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,' 'House of Mirth…' the list could go on."

6. What’s something you think readers should know about you or your writing?

"I’m a very fast writer. I’ve never spent five years with one story…I just feel like it would change too much. Every time I go back to a story, I want to edit, so the drafts I put out are actually quite raw (which can be both good and bad)."

7. Preferred working conditions?

"Coffee, Billie Holiday, morning, staring out a window. Repeat."

8. They say writing reveals more about the author. Do you agree? What does your work reveal about you?

"I love that question. When I first started writing fiction in college, there were so many parallels with my own life. Write what you know, right? But for "Not Her Daughter;" I wanted to write what I feel. I took a concept I was familiar with — parenting — and applied it to a situation I was unfamiliar with, like kidnapping a child. While I am nowhere in this novel, I’m also everywhere.

"I recognize myself in Sarah, in Emma, in Amy. While this book is about absent mothers, my mother was always there for me (and still is), so it was interesting to take a deep dive into backgrounds I wasn’t familiar with and imagine the outcomes of not having a dependable mother. What effect does that leave on a child? I think one of my strong suits as a writer is to garner empathy from even the most unlikeable characters. We are all layered and complex. I think that’s what readers will learn the most about me. I’m an open book, and I often notice details that link us all together— and they aren’t always the “prettiest” parts of humanity."

9. What are your goals as a writer?

"You read all the statistics about the sell-through rate of a book, and it’s grim. But then you also look at how improbable it is to get an agent and a book deal, and I believed that I could do it, and I did. I want this book to be a bestseller, sure. But more than that, I want to establish a longstanding career and build up a rich, wonderful readership of people who will enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them. It’s all about the readers."

10. What did you learn from joining a writer’s group?

"Before I returned to fiction, I was kind of intimidated by writers’ groups. However, after I’d just hammered out my first draft for "Not Her Daughter," I stumbled into a wonderful local writers group. I feel like they’ve been here every step of the way, from landing the agent to the pitching process to revisions to the book deal and countdown to publication. I think you learn so much from objective readers and talented writers."

11. Any advice for amateur authors?

"Read. Read as much as you possibly can. Then read 'Story Genius' by Lisa Cron. You’ll soon realize everything we’ve been taught about writing a story is wrong. Then read what you love to write. Study how other authors do it. See what books are successful, what people buy, what composes a 'good' book to you. Build up your author platform (sounds irrelevant, but it’s not). Finish the d*mn book. Whatever you are writing, finish it FIRST and then have a few trusted readers give you feedback. But not too many.

"When your book is done and you’re ready to query agents, ask other writers for help. (I’m always here to help new writers.) Go to the bookstore, find books in your genre and check out the acknowledgments page. See what agent they thank and jot that name down. Research those agents at home. Look at their author lists. Know how to write a good query letter. (Or again, research or ask for help.) And then send that bad boy into the world and start working on something else."

12. How was it to write a novel in a month?

"It was so much fun! I always say that this book wrote me. It was kind of an out-of-body experience because I wasn’t thinking about next steps or even getting it right. I just wanted to get the story out of my head, and I’m so glad I finally sat down to write it. That single month changed my entire life."

13. Can you list all your previous books and where to find them?

"I’ve had four nonfiction books published by various publishers, ranging from Simon & Schuster to Ulysses Press. They are all available in bookstores or online, wherever books are sold:

'The Cheat Sheet: A Clue-by-Clue Guide to Finding Out if He’s Unfaithful, 'Power Vegan: Plant-Fueled Nutrition for Maximum Health and Fitness,' 'Detox Before You’re Expecting: A Cleansing Program to Prepare Your Body for Pregnancy' and 'Living the Mediterranean Diet: Proven Principles & Modern Recipes for Staying Healthy'

14. What is your new book Not Her Daughter about?

"It’s a domestic suspense about a woman who kidnaps a five-year-old to save her from her mother."

15. Where can readers pre-order?

"Anywhere books are sold: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, Books-A-Million, etc."

16. How do you think your book stands out from other novels?

"I think I’m taking a common theme, like kidnapping, and reversing it. Is kidnapping still wrong if you’re doing it for a good reason? I think the domestic suspense genre has risen quickly, and I think NHD strikes a good balance between emotion and suspense. At the end of the day, this book is about relationships and sacrifice, which we can all relate to— but spinning the plot to have it revolve around a kidnapping is a different way to approach something universal, like motherhood."

17. You write nonfiction. What would you say to people who stereotype nonfiction as boring?

"Depends on what you’re reading! I absolutely love nonfiction because it’s actionable. I reach for books that will teach me something. As much as I love getting lost in a novel, the most 'changes' in my life have come after reading a really powerful nonfiction book. Anything by Pam Grout, Lisa Cron’s 'Story Genius,' and Greg McKeown’s 'Essentialism' have utterly shifted the way I approach work, time management and my outlook on life."

18. What gave you the idea for this book?

"I’ve always been obsessed with the subject of motherhood. What makes a good mother? What makes a bad mother? Why are we so connected and loyal to our mothers, even when they disappoint us? While I never planned on becoming a mother, I did, and I have learned such invaluable lessons. I’ve swiftly realized that my daughter knows me better than anyone, because she’s seen the absolute best parts of me and also the ugliest parts. Who else can you say that about in your life? That one human has seen all of you, for better or worse?

"On a business trip, I witnessed this horrible exchange between this adorable little girl and her mother, and I couldn’t get that little girl out of my head for weeks. It gave me the 'reverse kidnapping' idea, because we’ve all seen parents mistreating children in public and thought, 'God, I wish I could rescue that kid right now.' I wanted to take a character who wasn’t a mother (and can’t possibly understand the daily grind of motherhood) and have her kidnap someone else’s child with the hope of saving her…It brought up all of these moral dilemmas, not to mention if she could get away with it in this technologically advanced age."

19. How would you encourage non-readers to read?

"Reading is one of the most important things we can do. Years ago, I volunteered with a literacy council here in Nashville to teach adults to read. Trying to explain our difficult language and all of its rules to someone who had lived over 40 years without reading was difficult. But it made me realize one of the most important gifts we can give ourselves and our children is the gift of literacy. If you don’t like reading, you probably just haven’t found the 'thing' you like to read.

With all of the influx of information through our phones and computers, reading a book not only gives our eyes a break, it allows our minds to focus on one thing. While we are able to multitask, we aren’t able to multi-focus. Reading forces you to focus on what you’re doing. Make reading luxurious. Take a bath, have a glass of wine and find something you really love. One quick tip anyone can try is instead of reaching for your phone in the morning, take five minutes and read something instead. Poetry. The newspaper. Classic literature. It changes the entire tone of your day."

20. What other projects are you working on?

"I’m on my second round of edits for my second book and about 115 pages into the third. For my 'day job,' I’m the editorial director for a branding agency called SimplyBe, and we are launching a book proposal division that I will be leading. I write nonfiction book proposals for top-level clients and try to land them agents or book deals, so it’s fun to take what I’ve learned in this industry and apply it to help others!'

21. When should we expect another book?

"I have a two-book deal with St. Martin’s Press, so the next book will be published August 2019. If all goes well, I hope to be on a book-a-year trajectory."

22. Will this book be a series or a stand alone?

"This is a stand-alone book. However, in the original draft, I wrote it with the intention of having a sequel to find out what happens to Emma. When the book went to auction, one publisher wanted the sequel and for "Not Her Daughter" to be a lead title and a hardback book. The other wanted a stand-alone book, trade paperback (because it’s easier to sell), etc. Though I wanted to write the sequel and have the book be hardback, I went with the other publisher because I really connected with the editor. But who knows? If people really love the book and want to see what happens years down the road to these characters, I would love to reconnect with Sarah, Emma and Amy. I miss them already."

23. Do you have a message you want to tell people in the book community?

"Besides to pre-order my book? (I kid, I kid.) A book’s success depends on its readers. While a writer does the work, none of it matters if people don’t buy and read the book. I’m in a debut author’s group on FB, and one thing seems universal: bad reviews. There’s nothing wrong with a bad review, but I would say this to readers and reviewers everywhere: before you slam a book, think about how that review will affect an author (or you, if you were in their shoes).

"You wouldn’t believe how MUCH a one-star review shifts not only the ratings, but the overall morale of the writer or how it deters others from reading and possibly enjoying that book. Not that all reviews should be glowing, of course. This is simply the book business. I am already steeling myself for those who won’t like the book or think the plot is improbable or are appalled by kidnapping, and that’s OK. No one book is universally loved. But just think before you review.

"If you don’t like a book, maybe offer some constructive feedback to the author, because we are definitely listening! Also, sharing the word about a book you love and being willing to pre-order or share on social channels makes all the difference. Writers can’t have a career without readers’ support. It all starts with a strong book community!"

24. What social media can readers find you on?

"Instagram: @reafrey

Facebook: Rea Frey

Twitter: @ReaFrey_Author.


I hope you got some new books to add to your TBR list and will take advantage of National Reading Month. The release date is Aug. 21, so pre-order her book today!

Cover Image Credit: vibetribe

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9 Reasons Crocs Are The Only Shoes You Need

Crocs have holes so your swag can breathe.
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Do you have fond childhood objects that make you nostalgic just thinking about your favorite Barbie or sequenced purse? Well for me, its my navy Crocs. Those shoes put me through elementary school. I eventually wore them out so much that I had to say goodbye. I tried Airwalks and sandals, but nothing compared. Then on my senior trip in New York City, a four story Crocs store gleamed at me from across the street and I bought another pair of Navy Blue Crocs. The rest is history. I wear them every morning to the lake for practice and then throughout the day to help air out my soaking feet. I love my Crocs so much, that I was in shock when it became apparent to me that people don't feel the same. Here are nine reasons why you should just throw out all of your other shoes and settle on Crocs.

1. They are waterproof.

These bad boys can take on the wettest of water. Nobody is sure what they are made of, though. The debate is still out there on foam vs. rubber. You can wear these bad boys any place water may or may not be: to the lake for practice or to the club where all the thirsty boys are. But honestly who cares because they're buoyant and water proof. Raise the roof.


2. Your most reliable support system

There is a reason nurses and swimming instructors alike swear by Crocs. Comfort. Croc's clogs will make you feel like your are walking on a cloud of Laffy Taffy. They are wide enough that your toes are not squished, and the rubbery material forms perfectly around your foot. Added bonus: The holes let in a nice breeze while riding around on your Razor Scooter.

3. Insane durability

Have you ever been so angry you could throw a Croc 'cause same? Have you ever had a Croc bitten while wrestling a great white shark? Me too. Have you ever had your entire foot rolled like a fruit roll up but had your Crocs still intact? Also me. All I know is that Seal Team 6 may or may not have worn these shoes to find and kill Osama Bin Laden. Just sayin'.


4. Bling, bling, bling

Jibbitz, am I right?! These are basically they're own money in the industry of comfortable footwear. From Spongebob to Christmas to your favorite fossil, Jibbitz has it all. There's nothing more swag-tastic than pimped out crocs. Lady. Killer.

5. So many options

From the classic clog to fashionable sneakers, Crocs offer so many options that are just too good to pass up on. They have fur lined boots, wedges, sandals, loafers, Maryjane's, glow in the dark, Minion themed, and best of all, CAMO! Where did your feet go?!

6. Affordable

Crocs: $30

Feeling like a boss: Priceless

7. Two words: Adventure Straps

Because you know that when you move the strap from casual mode chillin' in the front to behind the heal, it's like using a shell on Mario Cart.

8. Crocs cares

Okay, but for real, Crocs is a great company because they have donated over 3 million pairs of crocs to people in need around the world. Move over Toms, the Croc is in the house.

9. Stylish AF

The boys will be coming for you like Steve Irwin.

Who cares what the haters say, right? Wear with pride, and go forth in style.

Cover Image Credit: Chicago Tribune

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.

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Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.


I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.


I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.


As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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